December 2015- Volume XIII, Number 10

Compiled & edited by Deb Miller Slipek, Ann Treacy, and Jane Leonard



–The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries is offering grants of up to $7,000 to update, extend, and diversify the book collections of pre-K-12 school libraries throughout the United States. Only schools where a minimum of 85 percent of the student body qualifies for the federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program are eligible to apply. Deadline: 12/14/2015. Online application information is available on the Foundation’s website here.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has released the Notice of Allocation Availability (NOAA) for the calendar year (CY) 2015 round of the New Markets Tax Credit Program (NMTC Program). The NOAA makes up to $5 billion in tax credit allocation authority available for the CY 2015 round, pending Congressional authorization. Deadline to apply: 12/16/2015. Click here for application materials and funding guidelines.

–USDA is offering grants to support projects that increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) by providing incentives at the point of purchase. Government agencies and nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply. Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the implementation of the project. Deadline: 12/16/2015. Click here for funding guidelines.

–USDA is offering funds to nonprofit and public organizations to provide technical assistance that will reduce or eliminate pollution of water resources in rural areas, and improve planning and management of solid waste sites in rural areas. Rural areas and towns with 10,000 or fewer people are eligible to apply. Deadline: 12/31/2015. Click here to review program guidelines and access application materials.

Northwest Minnesota Entrepreneurs: Applications for the 2016 IDEA Competition are now being accepted until December 31, 2015. This competition gives ANYONE with a product or service idea the opportunity to turn the idea into a reality. The IDEA Competition gives participants access to business development tools, a chance to get your product mentioned in the media, pitch to potential investors, professional services, and finally a chance to win $10,000 in funding to get your idea moving. For more information please go to

National Telecommunications Cooperative Association: Rural Broadband Association will provide up to $5,000 to support the development and implementation of innovative broadband-enabled solutions to support rural healthcare, public safety, economic development, education, energy, or other community-oriented initiatives. The successful applicant(s) will demonstrate how the broadband-enabled technology will generate improvements to community strength and growth consistent with the goals of this program. Deadline: 12/31/2015. Click here to review program guidelines and to apply.

–HUD has announced the availability of $9,977,500 of FY2015 Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP) grant funds. SHOP funding is intended to facilitate and encourage innovative homeownership opportunities on a national and geographically-diverse basis. The program supports self-help housing programs that require a significant amount of sweat equity by the homebuyer toward the construction or rehabilitation of his or her homeDeadline to apply: 1/4/2016. Click here to view the NOFA.

The Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is offering funding for needs related to planning and establishing integrated healthcare networks with the goal of strengthening or expanding access to essential healthcare services. Deadline: 1/8/2016. Click here for program guidelines.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) has issued a request for proposals to rural communities interested in applying for funding to host a community design workshop in either 2016 or 2017.  The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation. CIRD provides communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality.

CIRD offers annual competitive funding to six small towns or rural communities to host a two-and-a-half day community development and design workshop. With assistance from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops are intended to bring together local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government agencies to develop actionable solutions to the communities’ pressing development challenges. The communities will receive additional support through webinars, conference calls, and web-based resources on  Design and development challenges include but are not limited to the following: Main Street revitalization, managing and shaping community growth, the design of community-supportive transportation systems, preservation of natural and historic landscapes and buildings, protecting working agricultural lands, and maximizing the role of arts and culture as an economic driver for local and regional economies. Since 1991 CIRD has convened more than 70 workshops in all regions of the country, empowering residents to leverage local assets today in order to build better places to live, work, and play in the future.

The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016 at 11 p.m. EST. Successful applicants will receive a $10,000 stipend (that must be matched one-to-one) in addition to in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals is posted on the CIRD website: Selected communities will be announced in March of 2016 and workshops will be held during the fall of 2016 through spring of 2017.

The National Education Association (NEA) is offering grants up to $20,000 to nonprofit organizations for community-wide reading programs that encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences. Deadline: 1/27/2016. Click here to review funding guidelines.

County Fair GrantsMinnesota Department of Agriculture administers the County Fair Arts Access and Cultural Heritage Grantawarded to Minnesota’s county fairs to fund projects and programs to enhance arts access and education and to preserve and promote Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage. Deadline for the non-competitive grants program is February 5, 2016.

Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions – NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as libraries, museums, historical societies, archival repositories, cultural organizations, town and county records offices, and colleges and universities—improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. Deadline: May 3, 2016.

Wells Fargo and Opportunity Finance Network have launched Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program. The three-year Wells Fargo initiative will deliver $75 million in grants and lending capital in six biannual rounds to CDFIs that serve diverse-owned small businesses. In addition to lending and grant capital, the program will provide social capital programs to CDFIs to help increase their capacity to lend to diverse small businesses including mentorship programs, knowledge networks, consulting, and other collaborative efforts. To learn more about this program, click here.

–Economic Development Administration (EDA) is seeking applications from applicants in rural and urban areas to provide investments that support construction, non-construction, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects under EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance programs. Grants and cooperative agreements made under these programs are designed to leverage existing regional assets and support the implementation of economic development strategies that advance new ideas and creative approaches to advance economic prosperity in distressed communities. EDA provides strategic investments on a competitive- merit-basis to support economic development, foster job creation, and attract private investment in economically distressed areas of the United States. Deadline: applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Click here to review funding guidelines.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently announced two new energy financing programs intended to support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Minnesota: The Rev It Up Program for local government units that are seeking low-cost, long-term capital to finance community energy efficiency and renewable energy system projects, and the Public Entity Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Feasibility Study Loan Program, which provides public entities with funds needed to pay for energy audits and renewable energy feasibility studies.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg is offering grants to nonprofit organizations for general operating, program, and capital project support to help lower income older adults to live dignified, meaningful, and engaged lives in the community and to maintain their independence for as long as possible. Deadline: letter of inquiry accepted any time. Click here for funding guidelines.

–The METLIFE Foundation is offering three kinds of financial inclusion grants to nonprofit organizations: Access to Knowledge grants support organizations with the ability to reach large numbers of underserved households around the world and work with them to develop financial strategies and capabilities to improve lives. Access to Services grants focus on organizations that deliver high-quality services like savings, microinsurance, and credit to individuals in need. Access to Insights grants partner with researchers, academics, and non-governmental organizations to better understand the problems and potential solutions within the financial inclusion field. Deadline:  financial inclusion grant requests are accepted and reviewed throughout the year. Visit the Metlife website here to download the grant application guidelines.

W.K. Kellogg Foundation Grants support programs that work in the areas of childhood education, healthy children, secure families, racial equity, and civic engagement.  Applications accepted on an ongoing basis.

USDA is accepting applications for loans and grants to support business expansion, create jobs and increase economic opportunities in rural communities. Funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program (RMAP). Details about how to apply for this are found in the Federal Register here. Application forms may be obtained from any USDA Rural Development State Office.

— The Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program in Minnesota provides affordable funding to develop essential community facilities in rural areas. An essential community facility is defined as a facility that provides an essential service to the local community for the orderly development of the community in a primarily rural area and does not include private, commercial or business undertakings. Examples of essential community facilities include: health care facilities such as hospitals, medical clinics, dental clinics, nursing homes or assisted living facilities; public safety services such as fire departments, police stations, prisons, police vehicles, fire trucks, public works vehicles or equipment; utility services such as telemedicine or distance learning equipment. For more information, contact the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development .


Smart Growth America will issue “(Re)Building Downtown: A Guidebook for Revitalization”, a new guide designed to be used by any community, no matter their size, to bring people and businesses back to downtown. As part of the release, they will hold a webinar on December 14, 2015 at 1:00 PM ET to discuss the strategies outlined in this new guide, and hear about cities that are in the midst of revitalization, with the opportunity to ask questions. Register for the webinar here.

2016 EDAM Winter Conference to be held on January 21-22 at the Minneapolis Marriott in Brooklyn Park. Registration is now open with discounted fees available until January 8. For more information and to register, please go to

Research shows that nonprofits that invest in their volunteers can build capacity and increase community impact. To support this effort, the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration (MAVA) is partnering with and training organizations to assess their current volunteer engagement efforts. This model, called Service Enterprise, also helps organizations create a plan to foster a culture of volunteerism.  MAVA, along with HandsOn Twin Cities, is recruiting organizations to participate in two upcoming Service Enterprise training cohorts. St. Cloud cohort applications are due February 1, while Twin Cities cohort applications will be due in early May.  Visit MAVA’s website for more information or email Sara Wessling from MAVA or Zeeda Magnuson from HandsOn Twin Cities.

Save the Date for Minnesota Festival & Events Association Annual Meeting

Join MNFEA at the 2016 Annual Conference March 10-11, 2016 in New Ulm.

Save the Date for the 2016 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference  Mark your calendar now to attend the 2016 Explore Minnesota Tourism Conference, Feb. 2-3, 2016, at the Sanford Center in Bemidji.

–Mark your calendars now for the Joint International Conference of the Community Development Society & International Association for Community Development, coming to Minnesota, July 24-27, 2016.  The 2016 theme is Sustaining Community Change: Building Local Capacity to Sustain Development Initiatives.  Minnesota last hosted this international gathering in 2001 in Duluth.  The location in 2016 is the Hilton Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport hotel near the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Check our local host Facebook site for ongoing updates and to start connecting with colleagues now for a great summer gathering: A Call for Papers will be announced soon, and online registration will begin later in 2016.


The Minnesota Loan Forgiveness Program’s application cycle for next year is open through Sunday, January 3, 2016. Over $3.2 million is available in Fiscal Year 2017. In addition to the eligible professions of physicians, dentists, pharmacists, midlevel providers, nurses, and nurse/allied faculty, the program has been expanded to include three new professions—rural dental therapists/advanced dental therapists, rural public health nurses, and mental health professionals as defined by Minnesota Statute Section 245.462, subdivision 18. For information on the professions covered in the program, and for instructions on applying, please see the Loan Forgiveness and Repayment Programs webpage, or contact Brenda Flattum at 651-201-3870 or Paia Vang at 651-201-3895.

Apply to Be a College Health Corps VISTA Program Site.   Do you have (or want to start) a campus-community partnership that supports low-income Minnesotans in accessing healthcare, health and wellness knowledge, or food security? Would you like help expanding the scale, scope, efficiency, or effectiveness of your partnership? Consider applying to host a College Health Corps AmeriCorps*VISTA member in 2016-17. These full-time national service members provide a year of capacity-building service and receive a living allowance and education award. Deadline for full applications: January 14, 2016.   Learn more here. With questions, please contact Sinda.

Udall Scholarship offers scholarships to Native Americans and Alaska Native students pursuing careers related to tribal public policy, native health, or the environmentDeadline March 2, 2016.

Seeking Volunteers to help welcome attendees and host at various conference activities throughout the Conference of the Community Development Society & International Association for Community Development, coming to Minnesota, July 24-27, 2016.  Email Jane Leonard at if you are interested in short stints as Mobile Learning Workshop chaperones, conference greeters, and other hosting experiences.  It’s a great way to experience the conference and a great way to show our visitors Minnesota’s excellence in hospitality.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Office of Rural Health, is seeking nominations of qualified candidates to be considered for appointment to the Veterans Rural Health Advisory Committee (VRHAC). The Committee advises the Secretary on ways to improve and enhance access to VA healthcare services for enrolled veterans residing in rural areas and the identification of barriers to providing services. The Committee makes recommendations to the Secretary regarding such activities. Nominations of qualified candidates are being sought to fill upcoming vacancies on the Committee.

DNR Seeking Applications for Aquatic Invasive Species Advisory Committee

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is seeking applications from people interested in serving on the statewide Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Advisory Committee.


Native One Stop  – American Indians and Alaska Natives seeking information on a variety of topics now have a new tool, Native One Stop. Whether you are a veteran looking for a home loan or a student looking for an educational grant, the site is a quick resource finder.

“Why Rural Matters 2011–12” from The Rural School and Community Trust is the sixth in a series of biennial reports analyzing the contexts and conditions of rural education in each of the 50 states and calling attention to the need for policymakers to address rural education issues in their respective states. Download a copy here.

— Faculty and students at St. Olaf College have launched the Rural Immigration Network to share research briefs, ‘good ideas and practical information about innovative events, programs and initiatives that build community among immigrants and longer-term residents in rural towns around the United States.’ MORE

Key housing organizations take coordinated approach to preserving rural Minnesota’s affordable rentals  A collaborative effort among government agencies and nonprofit organizations in Minnesota aims to keep the affordable in rural affordable housing.

Featuring video supplements:

In a series of brief interview clips, hear insights from Robyn Bipes, director of programs and lending at Greater Minnesota Housing Fund and chair of the Greater Minnesota Interagency Stabilization Group.

Improving Dental Care Access in Rural America explains the unique challenges to accessing dental health services in rural areas and how it’s leading to a disproportionately high rate of cavities and other dental problems in those areas. Highlights solutions that some states have implemented to address the challenges.

Teleneurology Helps Rural Patients describes how a rural community in Minnesota is using telehealth technology to extend services to recovering stroke patients to avoid long commutes to services.

Rural Enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplaces, by State compares rates of enrollment in Health Insurance Marketplaces by state between rural and urban settings. Provides figures in relation to potential market participants.

Disability and Poverty Rates among Rural Veterans Have Increased from 2008 to 2014 a chart showing the rates of disability and poverty for rural veterans compared to rural non-veterans, highlighting changes from 2008 to 2014.

Rationalizing Rural Area Classifications for the Economic Research Service: A Workshop summarizes an April 2015 workshop that explored the data, estimation, and policy issues related to rural classifications currently in use by the Economic Research Service (ERS): Rural Urban Continuum Codes (RUCCs), Urban Influence Codes (UICs), Rural Urban Community Area (RUCA) codes, and Frontier and Remote (FAR) codes.

Census Reporter a web-based tool for accessing data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Search by location at various geographic levels. Provides a variety of charts and maps depicting demographics, socioeconomic factors, and other ACS data. A Knight News Challenge-funded project.

Smart Rural Community provides resources focused on broadband availability and implementation, designating towns as a “Smart Rural Community.” Includes white papers, videos, webcasts, and access to models that can be followed to create your own rural telecommunications hub.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy in partnership with Network For Good published an online giving database, which includes everything from big picture numbers to daily giving trends and an interactive map tracking giving by region in the last year.  The database shows Minnesota’s top three issues were Human Services ($573,934 given online), International and Foreign Affairs ($394,426 given online) and Education ($356,949 given online). This is similar to national trends, where online giving centered on Human Services, Education and Health Care.  Visit The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s website to learn more.

–Orton Family Foundation’s new, free resource, Using Storytelling in Community Heart & Soul, offers a step-by-step approach to incorporating storytelling into your town’s Heart & Soul in a way that gets the information needed for meaningful results.

Storytelling within Community Heart & Soul™:

  1. Raises awareness and interest in Heart & Soul and brings community action to life;
  2. Draws in new, underrepresented or difficult-to-reach voices;
  3. Reveals what matters most to residents about the community;
  4. Builds greater understanding, trust and relationships;
  5. Heals divisions, bridges differences;
  6. Brings meaning to local data, numbers, and community trends.

Using Storytelling in Community Heart & Soul is a companion resource to the Community Heart & Soul Field Guide.